Another Finish Line, Another T-Shirt

O.K., Arizona Marathon is in the books.  I came into this race optimistic about challenging my PR (Personal Record) and I had a training plan for the period between Honolulu Marathon and Arizona that I felt very good about.  However…various issues in my life, including nagging issues with my knee and needing to give more attention to my next book, meant that very little of my great training plan actually got executed.

So…I arrived in Arizona feeling pretty good, but not sure if I’d really done enough.

As it turns out…I hadn’t.  I ran the first 10 miles more or less at my target pace, and several of the succeeding miles were at target pace as well.  I lost too much time to a disastrous bathroom stop at mile 7 (never get in line behind a dozen ladies waiting for two porta-potties) that cost me at least 5 minutes. 

Also, undoubtedly due to insufficient training, I wasn’t strong enough in the middle miles. The first ten FELT really slow, even though I actually was more or less on pace.  From 11 to 18 or 19 I struggled to hold pace.  I gained a bit of a second wind from 19-22 and was actually back on my per-mile pace, then ran out of gas again and brought it home as best I could.

Additionally I had some problems staying mentally focused on my race plan.

So I fell well short of my goal time.

Don’t get me wrong.  It wasn’t a terrible race.  It ended up being my 3rd fastest marathon and I’m sure I’ll probably come back and do Arizona again some day.  I did some good things, had some good miles, I think I did the best I could have done on that day.  But the overall result highlighted the deficiencies in my training.

I want to take a moment to say a word of thanks to the MANY friends and family members who sent along words of support on this race.  As always Patricia and Maureen, Nolan, Trish, Jackie, Janeen, Nicola, Martin, Ray, "My little sister" Ashley, Mom & Dad, Dan, Suzanne, Christine and of course Carrie among many, many others.  Thank you all, your kind thoughts really do mean a lot to me.

A few random items…

  • Nice expo here.  Reminded me somewhat of L.A.  Busy, lots of active booths, booths that actually related to running and fitness.  Even ran into my friend Sherrie who I met at the Maui Marathon at the Expo!  Great to see her again.
  • It was fun to have an entourage: Sandi, Jana and Charlotte were here and it was fun to kick around town with them.  It was really amazing to round that final corner and see them going crazy cheering off to the side as I came in.  They all ran too (Charlotte and Sandi did the half; Jana did the full) and I’m very proud of the great job they did!  They’re all already talking about training and their next races.
  • Somehow my registration got screwed up.  I got the early registration t-shirt, I got the e-mail confirmation that set up my "fundraising site" (which I’m a little ashamed to say I never quite got going) but when I arrived here they had no record of my ever having signed up for the race.  Not a big crisis – I just registered at the expo.
  • I had heard there was 15,000 runners for the full marathon and 20,000 for the 1/2.  Sure didn’t look like it.  I’d be surprised if there was much more than half that for the full.  Maybe a lot of folks didn’t show but they only had 9 or 10 corrals for the Full…less than half what San Diego Marathon usually has.
  • Speaking of corrals, once again the Corral system they use worked brilliantly.  Easy to manage for the runners and keeps the runners sorted pretty well by ability.
  • My "jump out at the gun and go to the porta-potty" trick didn’t work this time.  The half-marathon started an hour later and when the gun for the marathon went off, the porta-potties still had LONG lines of marathoners and half-marathoners.
  • Nolan and Jackie put my accomplishment in perspective.  Nolan ran 60+ miles on TRAILS on Sunday; Jackie did 12 HOURS of spinning (on an cycle trainer) in support of the Epilepsy Foundation.  Awesome.
  • The Cytomax on the course was o.k.  I trained with it in the weeks ahead (NEVER DO ANYTHING FOR THE FIRST TIME ON RACE DAY!) so I knew what I was getting into. Honestly the tropical fruit is not my favorite flavor but I guess it’s sufficiently mild.  Might have preferred one of the citrus flavors like orange.
  • The Sport Beans proved to be my favorite nutrition on the course.  I used two of my four Chocolate Power Gels, but the Lemon-Lime Sport Beans were a nice treat.

Seen on the Course

  • A sign being waved: "It’s going to be long and hard but Natalie can take it! (That’s what she said)"
  • A Shetland pony being walked alongside the course.  At least one runner stopped to get a picture taken with it as I ran by.
  • A band at mile 19 named "Igneous Rocks".  Had to tell Carrie about that one. 🙂
  • A "Nerds" themed aid station including volunteers holding signs telling us there were only "14,212,714 mm to go!"



Next up for me I have a few short road races (starting with the Chapson 8K in about 3 weeks) on my way to the Great Aloha Run.  Great Aloha Run is not a big goal race for me this year, though I would of course like to beat last year’s PR.  At the end of March I’ll probably do the Iroquois Point Triathlon again.  All of that is just fitting into my training for the Ironman 70.3 (Honu) in Kona on May 30th.  It’s the half-ironman distance and though I’ve done a lot of triathlons, this will be my first attempt at that distance.  If it goes well I hope to do a few more at that distance and, maybe (MAYBE), attempt a full Ironman distance race in the next couple of years.

Wrap Up

So now I’m back at the hotel.  Jana, Sandi and Charlotte have headed for home.  I may get to meet a friend for dinner and another friend for "drinks" tonight but otherwise I’m just getting some work done before my flight home tomorrow.  I have an 8-hour layover in L.A. to spend with my parents.  Then a homecoming I’m very much looking forward to…it’s been a while since I had somebody waiting excitedly for me at the airport.

More soon…now I need to go get an In-N-Out Burger. 🙂


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